In Step 1, you found a few other people who are like you and who are going to help you launch and run a giving circle.
In Step 2, you’ve established your rules.
Now on to step 3: Grow
Sit down with your founding members and ask,
How many new members do we want?
How can we recruit new members?
How will we keep our current members engaged and enthusiastic?
Here are some suggestions on how to grow your group.
Social Networking: Raise awareness about your giving circle’s activities by posting reminders about your mission, notices about upcoming meetings, and who you’ve donated to and why via Facebook, Twitter, or other social networks. Don’t hesitate to reach out to someone through a social networking site that you think might be interested with a personal invitation to visit your giving circle.
Emails and Phone Calls: Keep writing lists of people you know and reach out to them personally through email, phone calls, or Facebook messages. Here is a sample to get you started.
I know you’re a very busy person. I also know that you’re the sort of person who wants the world to be a better place because you were here which is why I thought of you and want to invite you to check out a group I’m in called ____.
Our mission is to _____
What we do is we all contribute $__/month. Then every __ months we get together to choose where we’re going to donate that money.
The idea is that a group of people doing something small but doing it consistently can add up to huge results. I would love to be able to donate $10,000 through this group one day. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Plus, since we’re doing it together, we can benefit from each others’ experience, research, and insight, so we not only give bigger, but we give better, too.
Does that interest you? If so, our next meeting is ___, would you like to check it out?
Publicity: Think about press releases or other media coverage for your upcoming events or to publicize your past successes. Local newspapers often have a section to devoted to what people in the community are doing, and it’s the perfect place to mention an upcoming grant cycle or to brag about how much money you’ve just donated.
Similar Interests: Where do people who care about the same thing as you congregate? If you’re involved in an environmental giving circle, then a hiking club may be a great way to meet people. If you’re involved in a giving circle promoting animal welfare, then volunteering at a local animal shelter could introduce you to possible new members. Think about internet communities, too. Are there forums where people talking about your issue? Get involved in that community.
Word of Mouth: All of the giving circles I have interviewed tell me the same thing: word of mouth is the single largest way new members join. So, communicate to all your members that they should be talking about their giving circle to people they care about. When new members check out a meeting, make them welcome, and follow up with them. When new members join, make a big deal about it and match them with a current member who can help them feel comfortable.
You may or may not be a strong believer in goals. For me, I find them very effective, and one goal that I’ve set for my giving circles is for every member to invite a guest to every meeting. Of course, not everyone gets a new guest to attend every meeting. But it helps your members understand their responsibility in growing the giving circle, and as a result, your members will get enough new guests to attend that your group grows.
Engaging Current Members
The single biggest reason people will continue to participate in your giving circle is because they feel it matters. So it’s very important that you communicate results at every meeting. Results includes things like how many members you have, how many new members have joined, how much money you have to donate, and how much money you’ve donated.
Another important way to communicate results is to review the impact of your donations. You can do this by inviting the organization to speak at a meeting, by reading a letter from the organization or a recipient of that organization’s efforts, or by reviewing and emphasizing the organization’s work that your donation funded.
You’ve got a good foundation from which to build a successful giving circle. In the next edition, I’ll talk about how to maintain a healthy giving circle.
As always, you are welcome to contact me with any questions that come up.